NEW PB / Polling Matters podcast. May fights on – so what now?

December 13th, 2018

On this week’s podcast, Keiran Pedley and Leo Barasi look back at events in a frantic week at Westminster. They debate whether May was right to postpone the meaningful vote, whether a change in leader would have any impact on Brexit negotiations and the prospect of another referendum breaking the parliamentary deadlock.

Listen to this week’s episode below:

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Last night’s confidence vote points to a pathway to the leadership for Johnson

December 13th, 2018

If the 117 went for him he’d make the membership ballot

One of the big question marks over Boris’ leadership hopes has been whether he’d be able to secure the support of enough fellow MPs in the first rounds of voting to be able to secure a place in the final two names that go to the membership.

The former mayor and ex-Foreign Secretary who has just had a haircut has never had a sizeable base amongst CON MPs who would be ready to work in those critical first rounds which take place within the parliamentary party.

In fact he is loathed by many of his fellow MPs some of whom have said they would quit the party if he achieved his career ambition. Only last week he was booed by fellow Tories while speaking in the Commons.

    No doubt there will be a very strong stop Boris effort going on whenever TMay does step down and one can envisage her choosing a time which would be most disadvantageous to the ex-mayor.

Well the result of last night’s secret ballot gave us an indication that the hardline Brexiteers can muster perhaps a 100 MPs which should be enough to get him to the line. Tory leadership contests are, of course, of two parts. The first amongst MPs to vote on a shortlist of two and then the membership ballot.

It is widely assumed that if his name goes to the membership then he would win and in the past couple of days Boris has emerged as clear betting favourite.

Mike Smithson


The confidence vote betting: How the betting markets got it right from the vey start

December 13th, 2018

Chart betdata.io

But if punters could see this why not Moggsy’s ERG?

Yesterday was a huge political betting day with two million pounds on the Betfair market alone being wagered on the confidence vote on Theresa May.

It’s quite useful to look back and see how the markets performed against the actual result and as can be seen the lowest it ever dropped to on the Betfair Exchange for Mrs May was within the first hour at 9.40am when it was 65.6%.

As the day moved in it edged up steadily in the prime minister’s favour and five minutes before Graham Brady’s announcement you could have got a bet on at a 93% chance.

As well as the Betfair Exchange all the major bookies put up betting markets quickly following the announcement yesterday morning that a vote would take place and my guess is that the Betfair Exchange represents about 1/3 of the overall total number of wagers.

Given that quite a lot of betting on politics like this is generated within the Palace of Westminster itself then that might explain the fairly confident picture for Mrs May throughout. One would assume that this was almost the sole topic of conversation and many in in the Palace would have had a very clear sense of the way it was going.

The only other recent confidence move was the one against IDS in October 2003 when it became pretty clear early on what his fate was.

    My nagging doubt throughout was my erroneous assumption that Moggsy’s ERG gang would not have made a move like this unless they were fairly confident of success. That is a lesson to learn for the future. The most important thing when you mount a coup is to ensure you get a body.

So both Moggsy & co plus the PM have been weakened.

Mike Smithson


Immigration, immigration, immigration – it hasn’t gone away you know.

December 13th, 2018

Immigration was one of the major issues in the referendum debate. The influx of several million Europeans coming to a country which had made no serious effort to accommodate its biggest ever increase in population changed the political landscape and enabled in no small way the decision to leave the EU.

Since the vote the immigration issue has appeared to become less important. In part this is because immigration from Europe has reduced in the last two years. Improved wages at home, exchange rate movements and a perception of a colder welcome have all did their part in making the UK less of a favoured destination for Europeans.

With the issue now off the political hot list the UK’s politicians have marched off to the Westminster trenches to fire the minutiae of Parliamentary procedures and personality failings at each other.

In the wider world however things are different. This month the UN met a Marrakesh to approve a new compact on migration, something which has received little coverage in the UK media. The compact is wide ranging in its aspirations and inevitably has controversial parts most noticeably in blurring the status of legal and illegal migrants. A short overview of the compact can by found clicking here.

Across the world positions are being taken. Trump unsurprisingly wants no truck with the deal, Frau Merkel is all for it; the populist versus internationalist fault line is once again opening up. In Belgium the government has lost its majority and is wobbling, the Eastern half of the EU has rejected signing up to the deal.

This creates once more the scene for an EU clash between Merkel who wants to push her immigration problem on to the rest of Europe and a nationalist Europe which says no.Once again immigration is climbing back up the political agenda, climbing at a time when economies are running out of steam. 

For the UK little of this has yet hit the public consciousness. The government has said in principle it will sign the pact but what does that mean? Having seen immigration fall down the list of voter concerns the prospect of seeing it come back to life can’t be excluded.

In the Brexit mire where all sides look for reasons to open new lines of attack re-invigorating a touchstone issue is a real risk. If this does happen then the battle lines will be imported from a debate the UK simply is not taking part in.

Merkel and the Commission versus Trump and the Italians – the prospects are grim this won’t be debate but two tribes going to war. With mobile populations in the EU the UK cannot just expect to watch from the sidelines. Brexit aside the UK remains a favoured destination for people across the globe.

So time to for our politicians to do the boring stuff. Time to explain what we are signing up to, how it impacts us and what will be done about it, because if they won’t, the agenda it will be shaped for them. There are some imports we are better off without.



So TMay wins 200 to 117 – but is the margin enough?

December 12th, 2018

The Tory Brexit dilemma goes on

Mike Smithson


Bad news for TMay from ConHome – nearly two thirds of members surveyed want her out

December 12th, 2018

With voting due to start at Westminster at 6pm there’s bad news for the PM from the ultra Brexiteer site, ConHome. A snap survey finds 63% of those who participated wanting the PM out.

The question of whether this is representative of CON members I don’t know but this is very much the impression that CONHome tries to project.

Whether this will influence MPs as they prepare to cast their ballot in the confidence vote is hard to say. ComHome has become an ultra hardline Brexit site and one assumes that this approach chimes with its audience and survey participants.

The betting continues to look good for her. It’s now an 89% chance on Betfair that she will survive.

Mike Smithson


If punters risking their cash have got this right TMay’s safe

December 12th, 2018

But could the betting markets have it wrong?

Betfair and the other bookies were quick off the mark this morning getting markets up following news that tonight we will see a confidence vote amongst Conservative MPs on Theresa May.

So far, it seems that political betting public at least thinks that she is going to survive and currently, as I write, (1200) Betfair has the prime minister with an 80% chance of ending the day still in her job.

The last time this procedure was used to try to oust a CON leader, the confidence vote against IDS in October 2003, the Betfair market proved to be a good pointer to what was going to happen. It should be said that voting in that election took place all day and not like this one where it starts at 6 p.m. at night.

I’m going to be out for most of the afternoon and will probably not be posting again till 5 or 6 p.m.

Will what’s been described as the “most sophisticated electorate in the world” surprise us? It might.

Mike Smithson


Confirmed – 48 letters have been received by Graham Brady and TMay could be voted out tonight

December 12th, 2018

So the rumours that we were hearing last night were correct. The names have gone in to the chairman of the 1922 committee, Graham Brady, and now we have a confidence vote taking place.

Under the rule changes introduced when William Hague was Conservative leader this is the mechanism for ousting someone who has ceased to retain the confidence of the parliamentary Party.

If she is defeated then there will have to be a new leadership election at a very critical time and, of course, over the holiday period. Mrs May would be barred from being a candidate in that new election.

    The dilemma for Tory MPs is that they could be triggering off a process that could produce a leader that they are totally hostile to and they would regard as worse than TMay.

The great thing for her is that if she does survive, even by a majority of just one then she is immune from another leadership challenge for a year.

What we don’t know is what would happen if she loses. Will she remain in position until such time as a new leader is elected or would the cabinet recommend that an emergency temporary leader, and PM, is put in place until such time as a new leader has formally been elected.

No doubt the betting markets will be very active. I am delighted that I closed down my Theresa May will survive wager until the end of 2018 bet at the weekend at a profit.

Mike Smithson